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No Labels Document Shows Politics As Usual Strategy

By: Tuesday July 29, 2014 8:48 am

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“No Labels”, a group of political consultants claiming to be dedicated to rising above Washington DC partisanship and cynicism, has  apparently become partisan and cynical. In a memo viewed by Yahoo News, No Labels is discovered to be the phony mouthpiece for moneyed interests many assumed it was. Rather than “solving problems” as is the stated purpose of the group, No Labels is consumed by the struggle for relevance in DC and ways to advance the interests of its wealthy donors.

The document also notes that No Labels sees Republicans taking control of the Senate as an opportunity for the organization to gain relevance as a “bridge” between the Congress and the White House. In other words, a group backed by Big Business wants a Congress controlled by Republicans so the Democrat in the White House will cut more pro-Big Business deals. Talk about rising above principle.

And though No Labels has positioned itself as a warrior against gridlock, an internal document obtained by Yahoo News suggests the group is banking on more political dysfunction in an attempt to find “opportunity” and relevance for itself.

The confidential document, distributed at No Labels’ May executive board meeting, outlines a “break through strategy” for the group, which despite raising millions and a buzzy-for-cable-news-talk launch, has struggled to find a foothold on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress. The first point in that strategy is a “balance of power shift in the U.S. Senate,” an awkward position to outline, if not advocate, given No Labels’ aim of bipartisanship and that one of the group’s co-chairs, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, currently sits in the majority caucus.

Awkward to say the least. The document also says that No Labels has “already begun back door conversations with Senate leaders to discuss this increasingly likely scenario.”

Most of No Labels’ budget goes to promoting itself and raising more money – mostly raised from corporate executives and hedge fund managers. The group’s pretentious statements have irritated both sides of aisle which, in a sense, has created more bipartisanship in Washington. But in terms of actual legislative achievement there is none to speak of.

No Labels is ironically the epitome of what everyone – of both parties – hates about Washington DC, a group of crass opportunists raising money to promote themselves by exploiting people’s concerns about public policy issues.

Privatization Of World Water Supply Kicks Into Gear

By: Tuesday July 29, 2014 7:55 am

How much would you pay to stay alive? As climate change makes the planet less hospitable for human life in numerous well established locations, a major push is taking place by transnational corporations to secure claims on the most valuable commodity on earth – water. While privatizing and commidifying water supplies has been a neoliberal project for some time, the stakes and opportunities for profit have risen dramatically as a changing climate shifts water resources around the world.

Taking the world’s water supply hostage is a businessperson’s dream. No need to create artificial demand for this product, if the customer does not buy it they die, painfully. So it should be no surprise that Wall Street sees water as the next boom market and wants in.

The latest campaign to privatize and commidify water is being led by Peter Brabeck, the Chairman and former CEO of Nestle, the largest food company in the world.

In [Brabeck's] view, citizens don’t have an automatic right to more than the water they require for mere “survival”, unless they can afford to pay for it. For context, the World Health Organization sets such “survival” consumption levels at a minimum of 20 liters a day for basic hygiene and food hygiene – higher, if you add laundry and bathing. If you’re reading this in the United States, the odds are that flushing your toilet consumes 50 liters of water a day…

But Brabeck probably isn’t the best standard-bearer for the cause of responsible water management, by any stretch of the imagination. Consider the fact that as the drought has worsened, Nestle’s Nestle Waters North Americas Inc division – the largest bottled water company in the country – has continued to pump water from an aquifer near Palm Springs, California, thanks to its partnership with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Their joint venture, bottling water from a spring on land owned by the band in Millard Canyon, has another advantage: since the Morongo are considered a sovereign nation, no one needs to report exactly how much water is being drawn from the aquifer.

Water restrictions for thee, but not for me? As the corporate world increasingly captures the water supply expect more of those stories. Soon they can start bribing politicians with water to get land variances.

If water becomes a pure commodity as Nestle and other members of the corporate overclass wish it to be and supplies become significantly strained due to climate change, then being rich won’t just mean having a better life, it will mean having a life at all. Let the transnational elite do to water what Enron did to energy and see what happens next.

Questions Surround Edited NBC Report On Al-Shifa Hospital Bombing

By: Tuesday July 29, 2014 5:20 am

Something strange happened yesterday. NBC News reported that Israel bombed Al Shifa hospital located in the Gaza Strip only to later pull back the report based on statements from the Israeli military. Ayman Mohyeldin, an NBC reporter, claims there is video and pictures to back up the initial account that the attack on the hospital came from an Israeli drone.

Mohyeldin was the reporter that NBC removed after he reported on the deaths of the children Israel killed on the beach in a way not to the IDF’s liking. After protests were launched from the public Mohyeldin was reinstated. The removal of Mohyeldin by NBC was seen as emblematic of a pro-Israel bias NBC has repeatedly demonstrated, most recently by its flagship program, Meet The Press, which was caught promoting Israeli propaganda.

If Mohyeldin’s statements are correct, NBC News took down a report based on its own first hand accounts in favor of Israeli government statements. In other words, NBC News is not actually a news organization.

The attack, which reportedly killed 10 Palestinians, nine of them children, occurred at five P.M. The Israel Defense Forces released a statement fingering Palestinian rockets in the attack…

But NBC staff, including Ayman Mohyeldin, the reporter who was sent back to Gaza after being replaced by Richard Engel, say otherwise. “Early reports from the ground had said an Israeli drone appeared responsible for the attack,” NBC’s report on the incident now reads. (An earlier version of the same article, as captured and tweeted by a number of journalists, was more direct: “However, a NBC News journalist witnessed the attack on the hospital and said it had been fired by an Israeli drone.”)

Either there is evidence in NBC News’ possession that proves an Israeli drone was responsible for the attack, or there is not. A statement by the IDF or Hamas or whomever is secondary to that primary evidence. Or are journalists supposed to drop things down the memory hole now when they cover Israel?

The edits by NBC News on the Al Shifa hospital bombing are receiving interest because they play into a larger narrative not just about NBC but the American corporate media generally – that they are hopelessly pro-Israel to the point of journalistic paralysis. NBC and its mainstream colleagues can not move on stories because they are deathly afraid of being labeled anti-Israel. Which is fine as a corporate strategy, but don’t lie to the public and say you are reporting real news.

The Roundup for July 28th, 2014

By: Monday July 28, 2014 3:09 pm

To our Muslim readers, enjoy Eid today. For the rest, enjoy the beginning of the week! International Politics Overall – A Ukrainian official stated MH17 crashed as a result of “massive explosive decompression,” caused by rocket fire – Juan Cole: “Israel’s Gaza Campaign Endangers US Security: Why Obama & Kerry are Furious“; Meanwhile, U.S. officials [...]

FISA Court Judges Signing Off On NSA Surveillance Programs Invest In Verizon Stock

By: Monday July 28, 2014 9:43 am

The secretive court that rules on the legality of NSA domestic surveillance programs has members holding stakes in the telecommunications companies affected by the court’s decisions. This conflict of interest poses a serious risk to the actual and perceived impartiality of the shadowy court. According to Vice, FISA Court Judges James Zagel, Susan Wright, and [...]

BuzzFeed Editor Fired After 41 Instances Of Plagiarism Found

By: Monday July 28, 2014 7:20 am

The results of BuzzFeed’s internal review are back and they aren’t pretty. In a post entitled “An Apology to Our Readers”, BuzzFeed’s Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith disclosed that after reviewing 500 posts from one of BuzzFeed’s leading reporters, Benny Johnson, Smith and others discovered “41 instances of sentences or phrases copied word for word from other [...]

David Gregory Caught Using Unverified Israeli Propaganda Video To Smear UN

By: Monday July 28, 2014 5:33 am

Tim Russert spins one more time in his grave. In yet another embarrassing moment for Meet The Press, David Gregory was caught using Israeli government video claiming to show rockets being fired from a UN school with no verification, only to have to to walk back the claim later in the show. Gregory accusingly introduced [...]

The Weekend Roundup for July 26-27th, 2014

By: Sunday July 27, 2014 3:37 pm

Hey folks, how are you doing this day? International Politics Overall – Michael Ratner discusses with The Real News on how the UN should charge Israel with crimes against humanity, war crimes, genocide and apartheid. – The U.S. offered satellite photos of rockets fired from Russia – Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei [...]

The Roundup for July 25th, 2014

By: Friday July 25, 2014 4:42 pm

Hey everyone! Enjoy your Friday and the weekend ahead. International Politics Overall – Pew: 56 percent of civilians polled globally have confidence in President Barack Obama compared to 23 percent who have confidence in Russian President Vladimir Putin – Omar Barghouti, founder of the BDS movement, discusses on The Real News growing opposition to Israel’s actions and [...]

BuzzFeed Reviewing Stories Of Editor After Plagiarism Charges Made

By: Friday July 25, 2014 10:21 am

Repeat after me: Copying and pasting someone's work is called "plagiarism" http://t.co/0Ik1dPXq1O — BuzzFeed Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 23, 2014 BuzzFeed has now confirmed that one of its editors, Benny Johnson, is having his work reviewed after being accused of plagiarizing work from other outlets including The New York Times, Wikipedia, Heritage Foundation, National Review Online, [...]

FDL Exclusive: DOJ Says Smarter Sentencing Act Would Save Taxpayers $24 Billion

By: Friday July 25, 2014 8:48 am

The Department of Justice has responded to a Freedom of Information Act request from FDL News for documents estimating the costs that the federal government will not have to incur if the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014 is passed. The 12 page draft memo provided to FDL indicates that the DOJ estimates the cost avoidance [...]

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